28 February 2014

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus

Happy St. David’s Day, as the title of this post says. My Welsh ancestors would want me to make mention of our great patron for his feast day, which is March 1st. Following is an excerpt from an anonymous account of the saint:

Saint David, or Dewi Sant, as he is known in the Welsh language, is the patron saint of Wales. He was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century. During his life, he was the archbishop of Wales, and he was one of many early saints who helped to spread Christianity among the pagan Celtic tribes of western Britain.

For details of the life of Dewi, we depend mainly on his biographer, Rhigyfarch. He wrote Buchedd Dewi (the life of David) in the 11th century. Dewi died in the sixth century, so nearly five hundred years elapsed between his death and the first manuscripts recording his life. As a result, it isn't clear how much of the history of Dewi's life is legend rather than fact.

However, sources tell us that Dewi was a very gentle person who lived a frugal life. It is claimed that he ate mostly bread and herbs - probably watercress, which was widely used at the time. Despite this supposedly meager diet, it is reported that he was tall and physically strong.

Dewi is said to have been of royal lineage. His father, Sant, was the son of Ceredig, who was prince of Ceredigion, a region in South-West Wales. His mother, Non, was the daughter of a local chieftain. Legend has it that Non was also a niece of King Arthur.

Dewi was born near Capel Non (Non's chapel) on the South-West Wales coast near the present city of Saint David. We know a little about his early life. He was educated in a monastery called Hen Fynyw, his teacher being Paulinus, a blind monk. Dewi stayed there for some years before going forth with a party of followers on his missionary travels.

Dewi travelled far on his missionary journeys through Wales, where he established several churches. He also travelled to the south and west of England and Cornwall as well as Brittany. It is also possible that he visited Ireland. Two friends of his, Saints Padarn and Teilo, are said to have often accompanied him on his journeys, and they once went together on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to meet the Patriarch.

Dewi is sometimes known, in Welsh, as 'Dewi Ddyfrwr' (David the Water Drinker) and, indeed, water was an important part of his life. He is said to have drunk nothing else. Sometimes, as a self-imposed penance, he would stand up to his neck in a lake of cold water, reciting Scripture.

He founded a monastery at Glyn Rhosyn (Rose Vale) on the banks of the small river Alun where the cathedral city of St. David stands today. They had to get up very early in the morning for prayers and afterwards work very hard to help maintain life at the monastery, cultivating the land and even pulling the plough. Many crafts were followed, and beekeeping, in particular, was very important. The monks had to keep themselves fed as well as the many pilgrims and travelers who needed lodgings. They also had to feed and clothe the poor and needy in their neighborhood.

There are many stories regarding Dewi's life. It is said that he once raised a youth from death, and milestones during his life were marked by the appearance of springs of water. These events are arguably more apocryphal than factual, but are very well known to Welsh-speaking schoolchildren.

Perhaps the most well-known story regarding Dewi's life is said to have taken place at the Synod of Llanddewi Brefi. They were to decide whether Dewi was to be archbishop. A great crowd gathered at the synod, and when Dewi stood up to speak, one of the congregation shouted, 'We won't be able to see or hear him'. At that instant the ground rose till everyone could see and hear Dewi. Unsurprisingly, it was decided, very shortly afterwards, that Dewi would be the archbishop.

It is claimed that Dewi lived for over 100 years, and it is generally accepted that he died in 589. His last words to his followers were in a sermon on the previous Sunday. Rhigyfarch transcribes these as 'Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.'

“Do the little things” (“Gwnewch y pethau bychain”) is today a very well-known phrase in Welsh, and has proved an inspiration to many. On a Tuesday, the first of March, in the year 589, the monastery is said to have been 'filled with angels as Christ received his soul'.

Dewi's body was buried in the grounds of his own monastery, where the Cathedral of St. David now stands. After his death, his influence spread far and wide - first through Britain, along what was left of the Roman roads, and by sea to Cornwall and Brittany.

For those who might like to celebrate St. David’s Day with an authentic comestible, here is the recipe for cawl, which is the dish most commonly served for dinner on the farm during the winter months in the counties of South and West Wales. The broth would be served in basins or bowls, with bread, and the meat and vegetables served as a second course.

2 lb Best end of neck Welsh Lamb
1/2 lb Carrots
2 large Leeks
1/2 oz Flour
1 small Swede or Turnip
1 lb Potatoes
1 oz parsley
Salt and Pepper

Put the meat into the saucepan, cover with cold water, add salt and pepper, bring slowly to the boil and skin carefully. (This can be done beforehand, and the fat allowed to set on the surface. This makes it easier to skim off). Then add the carrots (cut in half), the swede (sliced) and the white of the leeks, and simmer gently for two to two-and-a-half hours. Add the potatoes (cut in flour) and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. When the potatoes are almost cooked, thicken with flour and a little water. Lastly add the green of the leeks and parsley (chopped) and simmer for another 10 minutes and serve in basins while hot.

During Lent, this recipe for Caws Pobi (Welsh rarebit, also known as Welsh Rabbit, although it has nothing to do with rabbits) makes a great Friday night supper.

6 ounces strong Cheddar cheese;
1 tablespoon butter;
1-2 teaspoons Worcester sauce (to taste);
1 level teaspoon dry mustard;
2 teaspoons flour or cornflour;
4 tablespoons beer (about);
4 slices bread toasted on one side.

Put cheese, mustard, Worcester Sauce, butter and flour into saucepan and mix well, moisten with beer, but don't make too wet. Stir over gently heat until all is melted and become a thickish paste. Allow to cool a little while you make the toast. Spread mixture on untoasted side and put under hot grill until bubbling.

And finally, for something deliciously sweet and authentically Welsh, try some wonderful Bara Brith (Welsh fruitcake):

1 lb (450g) mixed dried fruit, such as raisins and currants
1 pint (300ml) tea
2 tbsp marmalade
1 egg, beaten
6 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
1 lb (450g) self raising flour
honey to glaze

Soak the fruit overnight in the tea. Next day, mix in the marmalade, egg, sugar, spice and flour. Spoon mixture into a greased 2 lb (900g) loaf tin and bake in a warm oven 325°F, 170°C for 1 hour or until the center is cooked through. Check from time to time to see that the top does not brown too much, and cover with a sheet of foil or move down a shelf in the oven if necessary. Once cooked, leave the Bara Brith to stand for 5 minutes then turn out of the tin on to a cooling tray. Using a pastry brush, glaze the top with honey. Served sliced with salted butter and some tasty farmhouse cheddar.

But between bites, remember St. David’s words: Gwnewch y pethau bychain, Do the little things.

26 February 2014

Odds and ends...

Here's a little potpourri of items around Our Lady of the Atonement Church which people may or may not have noticed.  There's no rhyme or reason to these pictures... just things of interest.

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There's a lovely little positiv organ in the Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  It's from the John Crum Organ Company in Cobleskill, NY, which had brought its components from Germany.  The organ has five ranks of pipes and a zimbelstern (as my parents used to say, "If you don't know what a word means, look it up!).

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The Pieta is in what was the original porch of the church.  When the building was expanded, this is now a quiet place for prayer, just off the nave.  When the statue was restored, we had it painted in the colors of Our Lady of the Atonement, with the distinctive red mantle.

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On either side of the Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of the Atonement are statues of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Therese, the Little Flower.  Of particular interest are the niches in which the statues stand.  Over St. Anthony is a castle-shaped roof, symbolizing the Western Church, and over the Little Flower is a dome-shaped roof, symbolizing the Eastern Church.  In this way, we remember the importance of praying for the unity of the Church, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Atonement and all the saints.

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Halfway up the nave, often not noticed, is a Spanish colonial statue of Our Lady.  Carved in c.1760, she holds a rosary that belonged to our Archbishop Emeritus, who presented it on the day he consecrated the High Altar.

22 February 2014

I'm embarrassed by what I read...

UPDATE: It appears that Mr. Zimmerer's blog post has been pulled by "Word On Fire."

When I first read the blog post by Jared Zimmerer on Fr. Barron's "Word On Fire" website ("Why I Don't Want Priests To Marry"), I was a bit confused as to why it would be on what is otherwise a superb site.

After re-reading it, now I'm simply embarrassed. Aside from the obvious ignorance displayed in the title (the Church has never allowed priests to marry; rather, she ordains married men to the priesthood), Mr. Zimmerer seems completely oblivious to the long and unbroken tradition of married clergy in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, to say nothing of the more recent development of ordaining married former Anglicans in the Western Rite.

Is he saying that God has not called these married men to the priesthood? That certainly presents a problem, because the Church, in her wisdom, has confirmed God's call to each of these men.

Is he saying that the Church is mistaken in all these cases? I wouldn't want to go down that road.

Is Mr. Zimmerer saying that God cannot give grace sufficient for a man to fulfill his vocation to marriage and to priestly ministry? That would paint the picture of a weak and miserly God, and such a picture certainly doesn't describe the One Whom we worship.

Does God call celibate men to the priesthood? Obviously, yes! And He gives them the grace they need to live the celibate life. Does God call married men to the priesthood? Again, obviously yes! And they, too, receive the grace necessary to live out those vocations.

I think Mr. Zimmerer needs to stop second-guessing the Church. He's entitled to his opinion, certainly. But his opinion doesn't trump the decision of Christ's Holy Catholic Church.

21 February 2014

Thank-you notes to the Archbishop

After the magnificent Mass for Confirmation and First Holy Communion our Second Graders wrote notes to Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, thanking him for the great gift he had brought to them.  Here are just a few of them.

Video: Confirmation and First Holy Communion

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller was with us on February 19th for Confirmation and First Holy Communion, and he was the main Celebrant at the Mass, using the Anglican Use Liturgy.

20 February 2014

Blessing of Class Rings

Today at Mass we had the blessing and giving of class rings to the Juniors in our Upper School. The close-up picture shows the design of the ring, with the Pelican in the shield, and our motto, "Fides et Ratio." On one side of the ring is the Jerusalem Cross, and on the other side, the year of graduation.
O Lord God almighty, bless these students, that within them may abide health, purity, strength and humility, goodness, meekness and fulfillment of the law, and may they in all things seek to serve thee, the only true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

19 February 2014

New Soldiers of Christ

Our eighty-four Confirmandi, fifty-seven of whom also are First Communicants.

18 February 2014

Eighty-four to be Confirmed

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller will be with us on Wednesday, February 19th, when he will be the main celebrant at Mass, which will be celebrated according to the Anglican Use.

I will be presenting 84 candidates to him for Confirmation, and many of them will be receiving their First Holy Communion at that Mass.

The Archbishop celebrated our liturgy for the first time last year when he was here for Confirmation, and he told me he's very much looking forward to celebrating it again.

16 February 2014

Seven Holy Founders of the Servites

The following is excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, by Pius Parsch.
These seven men were the founders of the Servite Order, a community instituted for the special purpose of cultivating the spirit of penance and contemplating the passion of Christ and Mary's Seven Sorrows. Due to the spirit of humility cherished by the members of the Order, their accomplishments are not too widely known. But in the field of home missions great things are to their credit, and certainly they have benefited millions by arousing devotion to the Mother of Sorrows.

The Breviary tells us that in the midst of the party strife during the thirteenth century, God called seven men from the nobility of Florence. In the year 1233 they met and prayed together most fervently. The Blessed Mother appeared to each of them individually and urged them to begin a more perfect life. Disregarding birth and wealth, in sackcloth under shabby and well-worn clothing they withdrew to a small building in the country. It was September 8, selected so that they might begin to live a more holy life on the very day when the Mother of God began to live her holy life.

Soon after, when the seven were begging alms from door to door in the streets of Florence, they suddenly heard children's voices calling to them, "Servants of holy Mary." Among these children was St. Philip Benizi, then just five months old. Hereafter they were known by this name, first heard from the lips of children. In the course of time they retired into solitude on Monte Senario and gave themselves wholly to contemplation and penance. Leo XIII canonized the Holy Founders and introduced today's feast in 1888.

O Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we may with them attain to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

15 February 2014

Latin Mass at the Academy

Each Friday at The Atonement Academy the students' daily Mass is celebrated in Latin. Here is the Mass from the Commemoration of Ss. Cyril and Methodius.

12 February 2014

Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy


This live production, directed by Leonardo Defilippis and performed by Maria Vargo, will take place at Our Lady of the Atonement Church in the St. Anthony Hall on Tuesday, February 25th, at 7:00 p.m. Admission will be by donation at the door.

07 February 2014

St. Josephine Bakhita

On February 8, the Church commemorates the life of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Canossian Sister who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Sudan.

Josephine Bakhita was born in 1869, in a small village in the Darfur region of Sudan. She was kidnapped while working in the fields with her family and subsequently sold into slavery. Her captors asked for her name but she was too terrified to remember so they named her “Bakhita,” which means “fortunate” in Arabic.

Retrospectively, Bakhita was very fortunate, but the first years of her life do not necessarily attest to it. She was tortured by her various owners who branded her, beat and cut her. In her biography she notes one particularly terrifying moment when one of her masters cut her 114 times and poured salt in her wounds to ensure that the scars remained. “I felt I was going to die any moment, especially when they rubbed me in with the salt,” Bakhita wrote.

She bore her suffering valiantly though she did not know Christ or the redemptive nature of suffering. She also had a certain awe for the world and its creator. “Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: 'Who could be the Master of these beautiful things?' And I felt a great desire to see Him, to know Him and to pay Him homage.”

After being sold a total of five times, Bakhita was purchased by Callisto Legnani, the Italian consul in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Two years later, he took Bakhita to Italy to work as a nanny for his colleague, Augusto Michieli. He, in turn, sent Bakhita to accompany his daughter to a school in Venice run by the Canossian Sisters.

Bakhita felt called to learn more about the Church, and was baptized with the name “Josephine Margaret.” In the meantime, Michieli wanted to take Josephine and his daughter back to Sudan, but Josephine refused to return.

The disagreement escalated and was taken to the Italian courts where it was ruled that Josephine could stay in Italy because she was a free woman. Slavery was not recognized in Italy and it had also been illegal in Sudan since before Josephine had been born.

Josephine remained in Italy and decided to enter Canossians in 1893. She made her profession in 1896 and was sent to Northern Italy, where she dedicated her life to assisting her community and teaching others to love God.

She was known for her smile, gentleness and holiness. She even went on record saying, “If I were to meet the slave-traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and Religious today.”

St. Josephine was beatified in 1992 and canonized shortly after on October 2000 by Pope John Paul II. She is the first person to be canonized from Sudan and is the patron saint of the country.

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that, inspired by the devotion of thy servant, St. Josephine Bakhita, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.